Winter Roadtrip 2012 – Bow lake

Driving north into the heart of the Ice Parkway, Brian and I couldn’t help but notice the amazing serenity of it all. The relaxing and peaceful dance of  the softly floating snow as it slides by our windshield combined with the light crunching sound of fresh powder under the wheels, were hypnotic. Today, the crowds of camera crazy tourists and the roar of hundreds of chartered tour buses were absent, not a sound to be heard out here but the gentle “whoosh” of our passing, and the growing sense of being ‘away” from the action. AWESOME 🙂

Visibility was again reduced by the heavy snow flakes and the grey cast of a northern winter reasserting itself into our horizon, blocking the views of the rows of mountain peaks only a mile to either side of us as we drive up the most beautiful road I know. The gentle and peaceful hush of falling flakes more than compensates for the reduced visual panorama… I’m eager to see my most favorite and sacred oasis of beauty up here, Bow Lake.

Bow Lake - July 2010

Bow Lake is like coming “home” for me. It’s where I first experienced the magic of these northern mountains, felt their power…their majesty, the Glory of God in a deeper way. I can still feel the profound peace of being there for the first time… basking in the soft warm glow of a late summer sunset five years before. Standing on the little wooden bridge along its gentle shores, I literally wept at the artistry and beauty of this quiet enclave, with blue-green water and stony boundaries, its reflection of perfection clear and fresh as any spring water you could imagine.
The mountain peaks that guard its flanks, dramatically soar into the sky thousands of feet above the lake, nestled between snow-white glacial outcroppings and a giant waterfall with rising mist, pounding rhythmically in the distant horizon. It was to this very waterfall that I took my family on our epic day hike in 2010 that  resulted in a transformation of our kids and a book deal with Tyndale Publishers to launch this entire concept of RoadTrip Parenting. So, Bow Lake is a BIG DEAL to me. Personally, symbolically and globally as a testament to the unique and indescribable ways of God in my life.

It was to this special place that we were driving to visit next…. when we arrived, it was closed. The road back to Num-ti-Jah lodge hadn’t been plowed and the windows and doors were boarded up for the season. A few snowshoer’s were present ready to hike, but other than that it was quiet and empty. Snow blanketed the ground three to five feet deep, with a  grey fuzzy filter between us and the distant vista I so fondly remembered. Regardless, we got out of our car and gamely grabbed our camera’s, gloves and hats, determined to walk to the hidden shoreline, buried completely under the deep winter snow.

Bow Lake Bridge - Jan 2012

It was still spectacular, it was still amazing, but we couldn’t see ALL of its beauty… not like before. We knew it was there, just across the shoreline, peaks with rocky spires and glaciers, waterfalls frozen in place and skies of crystal clear blue, but we couldn’t find them. Not today. We took our pictures, we waded the quarter-mile across waist deep snow and found the effort exhausting. (note to self, snowshoes are used for a reason) I was slightly disappointed to find my sacred space covered up in weather, but it wouldn’t have been right to drive by and not make the effort to see her again. Winded, and weary we returned to our SUV and headed up to Jasper.

Along the way we saw glimpses of sunshine and evidence of blue sky, but only for brief moments and all to quickly it retreated behind swirling mountains cloaked in the dark grey of snow clouds and twilight. When we arrived in Jasper (northernmost outpost of the Bow Valley and Tourist belt of Banff and Lake Louise) it was still light enough to find a hotel room and get downtown to enjoy their annual winter festival. Streets were blocked off and a winter carnival type atmosphere was everywhere, people skating, talking, eating, standing over bonfires and sipping hot tea, coffee and chocolate… the smells, and sights and sounds made us feel like we had been transported to a nordic village that could have occurred hundreds of years ago or just today.

On the way to Jasper, AB - Jan 2012

Tired and ready for bed, we crashed at a local bed and breakfast and decided to head west in the morning for sunshine and better views. We were nearing our destination, the real wildnerness…the true un-explored frontier of British Columbia. An area we had only briefly seen in the summer, and we were eager to find out how far we could go and what adventure might lay ahead. The road was calling, open and snowy and unknowable… exactly what we craved.

As I considered the day and Bow Lake and the drive, I thought about how life mirrors our experiences. We can revisit places in our world that we know are beautiful, that we have loved and treasured for years, but they feel foggy… darker and grey. We know there is real pleasure there, real joy…but we can’t seem to find it. We know that our life is full and majestic and purposeful, but we just can’t feel it. I took great contentment in remembering that like the hidden beauty of our drive and the persistent nature of the dark and grey skies, it was only for a season. Spring would come and then summer and the beauty and glory and atmosphere I loved so much would return and it would be ALL the GREATER for it.

Just like our lives often appear to be…. Raising kids, staying connected with spouses, living in community, paying the mortgage and staying late at our jobs…all of it, from time to time…may sap some of the beauty and glory of our days, but it can’t take away the fact that it’s still there. This drive reminded me, its only hidden under a layer of snow or ice or obscured by fog… those are just circumstances, about to melt or blow away.

Peace out my RTP friends, day four comes tomorrow 🙂



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